I found myself struggling to wrap my head around verb conjugation. You start with “-masu” (polite form) easy enough, and then add in dictionary form… okay I still get it, then you have “-ta”, “-te”, “-nai” for the Past, Imperative, Negative and so on and then I find myself getting all in a muddle. Is it an “U” verb or a “Ru” verb, is it group 1,2 or 3…

What is the rule again?

Long story short I find it hard to understand grammar when written in rules (I barely know English grammar in the first place to know what all the terms mean haha). So I created a set of two decks to represent the problem visually. On the left, I have a deck of verbs with the kanji related to it and English on the front. On the back are the “-masu” form and the group it belongs to. The verb is colour coded to the rule it follows, and the second deck attaches the colour coded conjugation.

The idea is to flip a verb card over and then go through each conjugation separately before moving onto the next verb card. The answers to which you can read by joining together the matching coloured blocks from each card. For example on ‘Eat’ (たべます) TABE is in a highlighted box and anything outside the box is omitted when conjugating. In the case of ~て form, I read たべ (tabe) from the verb card, ignore the ます (masu), and then looks for the highlighted matching green box on the form card reading (te).

Tabe + Te = Tabete たべて.


I decided to use the “-masu” form as the starting point as it’s usually the first form you learn and makes more sense with colour coding the rules. I also included a few uses for each form to remind you how they can be used (but there are many many more). For example, たべて can have ください added to it to make たべてください (please do eat). I have not gone into detail of the rules or uses as this really isn’t my expertise, these cards are designed for those who have learned the rules already and need a way to quickly practice and memorise them.

I hope that makes some sense to you also and that these cards help you as they have helped me (especially if you are a visual learner like myself). They are not to the same quality of our usual products, so have not been run past experts to double-check. If you spot any errors then please let me know so I can update the PDF. It’s just something I’ve been using myself and wanted to share.

I included some blank cards so you can add your own verbs and rules. You could even make something similar for Adjectives and so on. Simply fill in the details and tick the colour coded box the verb belongs to. There is a massive list that helped me here http://www.japaneseverbconjugator.com/JVerbList.asp


Leave a Reply

Avatar placeholder

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *